After posting the tips we learned on where to play pickleball in Central Europe, I began to wonder if people might be interested in some of our travel tips for lowering travel costs when you want to visit new places, presumably to play pickleball there :-). We’ve been traveling full time for eight years now and we’ve learned a thing or two about making it affordable to live on the go.
One of our favorite methods that we’ve been using since 2009 is doing home swapping. We found a website that had great reviews, and we joined HomeExchange.com We were thrilled by the assortment of arrangements we found on the website.
For our first exchanges we listed and traded the vacation/rental home that we own in Flagstaff, AZ. In trade, we stayed in a large home in Colchester, England for two weeks, and then to a large flat in Versailles, France for two weeks. Other than our fee to join the website, no other money changed hands. We even did car exchanges and got to use a Jaguar XJ6 in France!
HomeExchange has changed over the years and we have found ourselves using it even more since we began traveling and playing pickleball full time. Because of some terrific changes they have made to the platform, it suits our lifestyle much better.
Home Exchange created a new point system several years ago so that you can travel to any home that is available when you want to go, without waiting for someone to want to travel to your location. It has made all the difference in the world for us to be able to use it when and where we want to go. The old simultaneous trades still work just as well, and the same way as ever. Here are four great examples of pickleball related exchanges we have done:
1) In August of 2022 we played in the French Open Pickleball Tournament in St. Raphael, France. We exchanged points to stay in a fantastic condo overlooking a bay that opened to the Mediterranean Sea in the small town of Agay. It was a WOW kind of view! We exchanged 945 points from our account, which had cost us nothing but the use of our home by a lovely British couple. We had earned 960 points from them for 6 nights in our Flagstaff home. We paid $0 for 7 nights for staying in Agay, France.
2) During the Margaritaville National Pickleball Tournament in Indian Wells from Nov 6 - 14, 2022, we exchanged our home for a condo in Palm Springs. It was within biking distance to the courts, at a time when very little was available in town, and everything that was available was exorbitantly priced. We lived comfortably, and we had a great time at Nationals. We used a simultaneous exchange with a friendly couple who wanted to visit our place in Flagstaff. We paid $0 for 8 nights for staying in Palm Springs.
3) In May of this year, we were in Melbourne, FL for a month. We had a few extra days before we needed to go back to Phoenix so we decided to check out the famous pickleball scene at The Villages. We checked on HomeExchange and were able to find a great little two bedroom unit that was a short walking distance to some of their 230+ neighborhood pickleball courts. In 3 days we played at 3 different sets of courts, The Everglades Community Center (12 courts), Churchill Street CC (4 courts), and the Lake Miona Rec Center (6 courts).
We had hosted a sweet French & Canadian couple in our home in Phoenix for five nights. It was a joy to have David & Odile, from Toronto come and stay with us. They have homes on the waterfront in Toronto, Canada and another overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. We had the best time with them, hiking, eating out, and chatting about travel. For their extremely pleasant visit, we earned 1,305 points, and made new friends! For our three nights in the Villages we “spent” only 375 of our points to visit The Villages, and paid $0 for 3 nights for staying in The Villages.
4) Immediately after visting The Villages, we flew to Puerto Rico. We were going to play pickleball at various areas of the island, but we found we had one week between planned stops. We took a quick ferry ride over to the island of Vieques. There we stayed in a gorgeous home, complete with snorkel gear, a very well stocked kitchen, and good air conditioning (much needed at that time of year!) We had a gorgeous view of the ocean, mango trees all around us, and a short walk to an incredible private beach. Upon returning to the main island, we met some awesome people on the west end of the main island where we played in a pickleball tournament. that led us to meet and play with people in two other areas of Puerto Rico. We exchanged 1,449 of our “banked points” for this, and we paid $0 for 8 nights for staying in The Villages.
All these stays have been truly fantastic and unique. Why stay in a hotel with one room and a bathroom for so much money when you can live in a home with all of the amenities for one low joining fee, and for letting reliable, reviewed homeowners stay in your place? If you want to travel to play pickleball, (or randomly you just want to travel even if you …gasp… don’t play pickleball), and you are comfortable having others stay in your home, or part of your home, you might find this a great way to save a heap of money, as we have. Above and beyond that, we have made terrific friends from welcoming people like David and Odile to our home. And guess what, … we taught them to play pickleball! ;-)
We've now partnered with HomeExchange to share our traveling tales with you, so please subscribe if you are interested in seeing more cool places we stay on our journeys. Hugs from both of us!